JEDDAH: The public decency laws are yet to be enforced, a Ministry of Interior official said on Monday morning, according to SPA’s Twitter account.
Last month, Saudi Cabinet members approved the regulations that aim to uphold the values, principles and identity of Saudi Arabia, simplified in 10 rules on public decency, resulting in fines of up to SR5,000 ($1,333) when violated and doubled when committed again in the same year.
The implementation of the regulations is still being studied by the concerned authorities, the source added. A date will be set and announced for when the laws will be implemented after all procedures to prepare for this are complete.
Many Saudis took to social media to joke that this would mark the return of the religious police. Others, however, felt that the list of actions considered a breach of public decency was vague and hoped to get more information on the punishments and what would warrant a penalty.
Muna AbuSulayman, a Saudi adviser and media personality, told Arab News: “I think that creating a big awareness campaign to define what is and what is not appropriate is needed as some of the regulations are elastic and can depend on interpretation, especially in different regions.”
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Bassam Fatiny, a journalist and adviser, spoke about the fines on Ya Hala, a TV program that airs on Rotana Khalijia. He said: “I hope that punishments will match the severity of the offense when it comes to the public decency list. For instance, those who litter would be made by authorities to stand in place of a cleaner for a short while and experience that.”
“I believe that will have more of an impact than financial fines,” he said.
The rules are applicable to anyone who is in public, and everyone is expected to respect the values, customs, traditions and culture of the Kingdom. Individuals are expected to adhere to the respectful dress code of the Kingdom, and avoid any offensive photographs or phrases that would disrupt public decency.
The list covers graffiti and demolition of public property by writing, painting or similar on the walls of public places, its components or assets, as well as tools of transportation unless authorized by the authorities.
It also covers verbal or physical acts of violence or abuse toward any person in public, and anything that damages or jeopardizes others’ safety.
The interior minister will coordinate with the chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), along with other concerned authorities, to appoint administrative regulators that will enforce the provisions of the law and implementation of penalties.
The minister and the SCTH will also classify the violations and determine corresponding fines that suit the committed offense and it will be issued by the minister himself.